Why Your Employee Engagement Intervention May Not Work

Engagement models are sold like popcorn in movie theaters to Executives doing their due diligence in trying make their organization a great place to work. So, a big question is – is it working? Well… Not really. Only 20% of us report being happy at work. Just 15 years ago, that number looked VERY different. In 1999, only about 25% of us felt our job was “stressful.” Today, it’s near 80%. That’s not a statistical change, it’s a societal epidemic. It’s also lackluster ROI for the billions of dollars that are spent to change engagement every single year.

But, forget the company for a moment and consider yourself. The fact that we’re getting more and more unhappy at work is alarming, because your happiness impacts --- everything. And, when I say everything, I mean everything. Research shows that your happiness impacts your health, your work performance, your relationship success, your willingness to help improve our society…

The gap between research and practice on employee engagement is widening to canyon proportions. Why? The last 10 years of research in Positive Psychology as well as advances in Neuroscience have completely changed our understanding of happiness/satisfaction. But, consulting companies are still selling engagement models and engagement interventions based on an old model that doesn’t work. Why? Because the truth isn’t as profitable … and because simple answers often don’t feel complicated enough to make us feel like we really did something.

I know. I have been there. I led an Organizational Development function for a turnaround company; I sat in the seat as a VP of HR for two of the largest furniture companies in the world. We did our engagement surveys. And, when we found low scores, we developed “action plans” to address these low areas. We institutionalized recognition programs and better communication processes. Our scores the next year were the same. And, the next year – the same again.

Did I fail? Regression to the mean? Ask enough people, everything is a 3 right?


See - happiness does not exist outside of you. It isn’t just around the corner. It isn’t found in the next promotion, or when you leave this job. It isn’t in that new pair of boots or that shiny new car.

In fact, if we know everything about your external world, we can only predict 10% of your long-term happiness.

90% of your happiness has NOTHING to do with the external world, but rather it’s what you make of life… it’s how your brain processes the world, whether you see it positively or negatively, glass-half-full or glass-half-empty. It’s how you filter the world. It’s whether or not you are bothered by that person with 25 items in the “20 items or less” grocery store line.

The current model of engagement - applied so often - assumes that if we change the external environment, we’ll make people happier. And, that just does not work. It never has, really. Happiness is an internal process. Nothing outside of you will lead to your long term happiness.

Your company – and you as a leader – should be VERY interested in your associates’ happiness. The link between happiness and performance is no longer debatable. We know that when you are happy, your brain actually works better than when you are not. A lot better, as it turns out. For example, when positive, you are 31% more productive than when in a neutral or low mood state; if you were in Sales, you’d perform 37% better; if you were a doctor, you’d make decisions 19% faster and over 20% more accurately…

It (happiness) also dramatically reduces the number of doctor’s visits you will take in a given year. It is estimated that 90% of what we see the doctor for in America is Stress Related.

How much is your company spending on Healthcare?

So. Happiness is a good thing. But, the way consultants and HR leaders are going about changing it may be all wrong. The process is an inside-out one, not outside-in.

This is what we specialize in doing at the Moksha Institute. We are re-writing employee engagement by focusing on the individual. We are re-writing a new way to be healthy - and it starts with your thoughts. We start with leaders, because organizations mirror their leaders. We hold leaders accountable to their internal work. We are dramatically decreasing Healthcare costs in the process. There is a strong link between our approach to employee engagement (creating consciousness cultures) and wellbeing. We are bridging the gap between employee engagement and associate wellbeing.

If you spend time investing in engagement models – know this: the engagement models you are investing in are accounting for roughly 20% of the variance in predicting 10% of long-term happiness – in short, they are influencing less than 2% of the 10% of happiness associated with environmental conditions. The other 90%? --- it’s WHITHIN the person.

Give them the tools to change their mood, increase their energy, and improve their filters – and you change everything.

We have programs that do this work. We specialize in it. We’re trained Ph.D. Psychologists, but also Mindfulness teachers.

We represent the new paradigm shift that is already happening (have you noticed what is fueling those millennials entering your workforce – it’s not the same old paradigms?)!

We’re representing the other 90%.

Why? Because there is no other choice for us. How can we help to heal our world when so many of us cannot see our way to joy due - overwhelmingly – due to how we feel about our workplace. This is our mission. We’d love to partner with you to help you change your culture, improve employee performance, engagement, and wellbeing.

- Dr. Ryan Pride

The Moksha Institute


About Ryan:

Dr. Ryan Pride is a certified Leadership Coach, Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, Yoga Instructor, keynote speaker, and author. He combines experience working in Fortune 500 companies with knowledge from Psychology and Eastern philosophy to help transform leaders/individuals. ​ Ryan has over 15 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies across the world. He has built and led his own Organizational Development function, was the VP of HR for two of the largest furniture companies in the world, serves as a leadership coach to CEOs and Business Leads across multiple industries, and provides life coaching to those seeking to change their life.

#employeeengagement #wellbeing #positivepsychology #mood #stress #consciousness #consulting

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